When the word diversity is brought up, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Race, gender, religion, immigration? A knock-down, drag-out political scream fest? In advertising, specifically in Acadiana¹, diversity means taking the effort and care to ensure that an advertiser’s message is engaging the broadest and most relevant demographic swath. Let’s call this Rule No. 1.
Digging for Data
So, just how do you determine the relevant demographic make-up of a unique area like Acadiana? The simplest way is to base your determination on decades (actually centuries!) of quality data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau (Census.gov). Though the national census is taken once every ten years, the data set is continually updated and quantified through other sources, and at all levels of government. Additionally, there are numerous websites which compile this valuable information into easily digestible nuggets. One outstanding example is the Statistical Atlas (StatisticalAtlas.com). Here, you can review and research nearly all social aspects or break-outs of a community: population; age and gender; race and ethnicity; marital status; household income; employment status; educational attainment; etc. This eliminates any guesswork and removes any tendency of personal viewpoints being injected into the question of who resides in any given area of Acadiana. Researching and studying relevant information for a given geographical area will help diversify an advertiser’s message by appealing to a broader spectrum of individuals. And there you have Rule No. 2. A caveat: This is dependent upon the advertiser’s product or service, of course.
Connect the Dots
Ah, matching an advertiser’s product or service to the demographic most likely to engage with that product or service. Here lies the squishy part. If you ask an advertiser who their demo is, 9 times out of 10 they’ll say, “everyone!” Well, that may be mostly true for a utility company (renters or owners of a business, residence or apartment), but for an attorney who specializes in estate planning (skew to higher income), or a retailer of ethnic hair care products (black, skew to female²) the demographic becomes very specific. That’s where the cold, hard facts of data come in. If data shows the area you are targeting is 59.86% black, 64% which are female, ages 22-39, then a message must be crafted to speak specifically to that market. This demographic data will also allow you to choose specific media outlets or channels accordingly. To use the data sample previously mentioned, if you are targeting black females of a specific age group, there’s a time slot for radio or TV spot that will skew to that specific market. There are social media channels that can skew to a specific market as well.
Depending upon the reach of the advertising channels utilized, some averaging of data will have to occur. Race and ethnicity, household income and employment status in St. Landry Parish are different than it is in Lafayette Parish or other Acadiana parishes. Hence, the need to know the reach of the media channels selected is important. In some instances of media placement, the reach or the message can be tweaked or targeted to smaller, more specific geographical areas (outdoor/online advertising). Rule No. 3 – Match the right product to the right demographic profile through the right media channels.
Keep the Craft Creative
Finally, Rule No. 4 – Creatively craft the look and feel of the message to exhibit the diversity of the marketplace. Simply speaking, if the data shows there is diversity in the race, age and gender in Acadiana, then the ad should portray this diversity in the message. Not through cultural appropriation or by stereotyping, but by using a true break-out of the real people and faces of Acadiana (see example³ below). Avoid the canned, overtly staged or stock-like in look & feel at all costs – this is virtually a dead give-away of a forced visualization of the message. TV spots can most accurately portray diversity for obvious reasons. The use of coordinated imagery in print ads, collateral materials and social media channels can easily follow suit. Not to be left by the wayside, the creative use of voice talent and the script can push the diversity appeal of a radio spot.
Aim for the Center
All things considered, the reach and engagement of any ad should reflect the communities that make up Acadiana. This is not a political statement or discourse. This viewpoint is based on simple facts, statistics and research. Political advertising aside, nothing said here should be construed or considered socially liberal or conservative – the population or demographics of Acadiana is what it is – allow diversity to become an advantage.
1. Acadiana is being defined as the 9 parish area comprised of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Jeff Davis, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion.
2. All descriptive demographics terms are those used by the U.S. Census Bureau.
3. Still images from a TV spot created by Prejean Creative for LUS Fiber.